Ayam Masak Merah


chicken in spicy tomato chili gravy

Ayam masak merah, or we can call it Chicken in red chili tomato gravy. It is really a satisfying chicken dish for any occasion. Best to serve with Nasi Tomato (basmati tomato rice). Fried the chicken pieces earlier, then add it into chili tomato based gravy. The twist to the flavor is when the pandan leaves and coconut milk  added into the gravy, yummy….. it’s really delicious.



Chicken Marination :

  • 1/2 Chicken (about 1kg)-cut smaller pcs
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 lime juice (optional )

Other Ingredients :

  • 4 Tablespoon oil for sauteing
  • 2 Star anise
  • 3 Cardamon pods
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 3 Cloves
  • 10-12 Dried chilies (soaked & unseeded)
  • 4 shallots/ bawang kecil
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1 Cm ginger
  • 1 Onion (sliced finely)
  • 1 Lemongrass /serai
  • 1 Teaspoon belancan /shrimp paste
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 Tomato (blend to paste)
  • 2 Tablespoon chili sauce – optional (sos chili)
  • 2 Pandan leaves
  • 2 Tablespoon thick coconut milk
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (or more)
  • Salt to taste
  • Some spring onion (sliced finely)

Let’s Cook the chicken:

chicken cooked in red ingredient

Prepare the required ingredients.

Marinate chicken pieces with turmeric powder and salt for about 30 minutes.  It’s an option to use juice from 1/4 lime added into marination. The lime juice will make the chicken pieces more softer and tender.



fried chicken

Heat up the frying wok with some cooking oil in it. Once the oil is hot enough, start frying the marinated chicken pieces. Deep fry the chicken for about 4-5 minutes (half cook only). Do not over fry the chicken at this stage, as we will be cooking the chicken again in the gravy later.

Once fried, remove the chicken to a tray lined with kitchen tissue. Continue frying the balance of the chicken pieces and keep aside.


ingredients for chili chicken

Blend to paste – shallots, ginger and garlic.

Blend to paste – If large tomato use only 1/2 of it, if it is small size, then may use whole tomato.

Dried chili to be unseeded, soaked in hot water (15 minutes), rinse in clean water and blend to fine paste (add some water).


sauteing onion

In cooking wok/pan, heat up some oil for sauteing purpose (medium heat). Start sauteing the cinnamon stick, start anise, cardamon pots and cloves. Let the spices to splutter. Now add in sliced onion and lemongrass. Fry them well till the onion turn to translucent (1-2 minutes). Then add in the blended onion-ginger paste.

Saute all the ingredients together for another 1-2 minutes.


sauteing chili paste

Now can add in the chili paste. Saute those till the oil surfaced on the chili paste (pecah minyak). This is an important step to follow in cooking ayam masak merah. The chili paste need to be cooked well, so that the color of the gravy will be deep red. In medium heat, cook all those for 10 minutes. Add little water if required.

Add in the belacan/shirmp paste, salt, sugar. Continue to cook them well.


ayam masak merak cookings

Throw in the pandan leaves. Then pour in the tomato paste and chili sauce. Let it to boil and cook for few minutes. Then add in the coconut milk. Coconut milk can be substitute with milk or evaporated milk as well. It will give some creamy texture to the spicy gravy.

Add about 1 cup hot water. Let the gravy to boil well.



recipe ayam masak merah

Add in the semi fried chicken pieces into the gravy and some sliced spring onion leaves. Let those cook for another 5-6 minutes. The chicken pieces was marinated and fried with salt in it earlier, so watch out while adding salt to the gravy at this stage.

Some prefer to have little dry and  thick gravy. If planning to serve the dish to big group, then it’s suggested to have more gravy. So add hot water accordingly.


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